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Safer Gambling Week 2020

Safer Gambling Week 2020

Sue Dawson

Safer Gambling Week is the new name for the industry initiative that used to be called Responsible Gambling Week.  It’s been run every year since 2017 but this year, it’s going up a gear.

Safer Gambling Week aims to engage staff, customers and the general public in a conversation about safer gambling and raise awareness of

  • How to gamble more safely
  • What tools are available to help people gamble more safely all year round
  • Where to get further advice and support

There’s masses of really helpful information about this on the Safer Gambling website which is available all year round, not just for Safer Gambling Week.

Safer Gambling Week 2020 runs from 19th – 25th November 2020 and during that time, comparision sites like us and operators from all across the gambling industry, online and offline – bingo, sportsbook, casino, slots, poker, lottery and others – will be promoting and sharing safer gambling messaging on site, on social media and via email and direct message where appropriate.

Part of this year’s messaging focuses on five key behaviours of safer gambling

  • Set your limits for time and money
  • Only spend what you can afford
  • Don’t gamble when you’re angry or upset
  • Don’t let gambling interfere with your personal relationships
  • Remember – gambling is not the answer to any problem

The first two items on the list are where operators can take – and are taking – positive action.  Over the last few years, an array of user configurable safer gambling tools have been introduced to help players set limits:

  • Deposit limits – per day, per week, per month – that are easier to set than to remove (typically, there’s a waiting period to remove them)
  • Session reminders – also known as Reality Check, these pop-ups interrupt play at pre-set intervals
  • Cool off – freeze your account (just with that operator at that one site) for a pre-selected period of 1 day to 6 weeks, after which it is automatically reinstated
  • Self exclusion – this has to be for at least 6 months and up to 5 years. It affects all accounts you have with that operator or licence (so if you have accounts at multiple Dragonfish bingo sites, for instance, you will be excluded from all of them and prevented from opening any new ones) and there is no automatic reinstatement when it expires – you have to request it.
  • Gamstop – this is the nuclear option of self exclusion for 6 months, 1 year or 5 years from ALL online gambling companies licensed in Great Britain.
  • Gamstop only covers online gambling – offline, there are multi-operator self exclusion schemes for arcades, btting shops, bingo halls and casinos.

Some operators have gone even further and introduced extra tools that allow fine tuning, for example:

  • Curfew – ban yourself from depositing on certain days and/or at certain times of day
  • Game Freeze – ban yourself from playing a specific game (with a 24 hour wait to unfreeze)

“Only spend what you can afford” is a little trickier for operators to act on without upsetting their players.  To be able to help players with this – as the Gambling Commission requires that they do – they must first find out what the player can afford and this has led to what some players have regarded as rather intrusive questioning about occupation and source of funds.  If you are a truly modest spender by anyone’s standards this may never be an issue for you, but if you earn a lot and like to splash the cash you should expect any reputable operator, these days, to ask for evidence that you can afford it.

What about the last three items on the list though? How can operators and indeed comparison sites help there?

  • Operators can help by building a relationship with players who spend significant amounts of money and looking out for any signs of possible problem gambling behaviour
  • Operators and comparison sites can help by periodically promoting safer gambling messaging including details of where to go for more help; a good first stop is Gamcare’s website or their free 24 hour helpline and you can find a list of further resources on our responsible gambling page.

We welcome Safer Gambling Week and other such initiatives; it’s great to see the massive steps forward the industry has taken over the last few years regarding the way it looks after players and protects them from gambling related harm.

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